Obama, Are We In or OUT?

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

The US President has changed his mind again. He says one thing today and another tomorrow. Is this the man we need to be the next President. What has he done differently than our previous President, engage in more wars and grow the National Debt out of sight (13 Trillion and Counting), and now the Government needs a bail-out by increasing the spending limit? What has happened to our country?

President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed drones in Libya, authorising US airstrikes against ground forces for the first time since America turned control of the military operation over to NATO. The first armed drone mission since Obama’s go-ahead was flown on Thursday, but the drone, armed with Hellfire missiles, turned back due to poor weather conditions without firing any of its munitions. predator drones have routinely been flying surveillance missions in Libya, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing on Thursday.

Gates said the US will provide up to two 24-hour combat air patrols each day by the unmanned Predators. Marine General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the drones can help counteract the pro-Muammar Gaddafi forces’ tactic of traveling in civilian vehicles that make it difficult to distinguish them from rebel forces. “What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions,” Cartwright said. “They are uniquely suited for urban areas.” He added, “It’s very difficult to pick friend from foe. So a vehicle like the Predator that can get down lower and can get IDs better, helps us.”

Gates, who publicly expressed skepticism about getting involved militarily in Libya before Obama endorsed the limited intervention, said “the real work” of overthrowing Gaddafi will have to be done by the Libyans themselves. Gates acknowledged the conflict “is likely to take a while,” He also said the continuing sanctions, arms embargo and NATO-led offensive have weakened Gaddafi’s military and eaten away at his supplies and cash.

Over the long-term, Gates said, that will hurt Gaddafi’s ability to strike back at opposition forces, if they should rise up again in other cities. At the same time, however, Gates said the administration’s decision to give $25m in nonlethal military assistance to the rebels did not indicate a more in-depth US commitment to anti-Gaddafi forces whose makeup, objectives and motives still are not fully understood in Washington. The aid, is not high-end military equipment but rather a hodge-podge of things like uniforms and canteens. Asked how long he believes it will take the NATO-led air campaign to succeed, Gates replied, “The honest answer to that is, nobody knows.”

Meanwhile, casualties are on the rise as Libyan government forces and rebel fighters battle it out on the streets of besieged western city of Misurata, amid calls by the UN chief to “stop fighting”. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, urged Libyan authorities on Thursday to “stop fighting and stop killing people” and said the world body’s priority was to secure a ceasefire. “At this time our priority is to bring about a verifiable and effective ceasefire, and then we can expand our humanitarian assistance, and we are going to engage in political dialogue,” he said during an official visit to Moscow.

Elsewhere in the country, Libyan state television said, NATO forces struck the Khallat al-Farjan area of the capital Tripoli, killing seven people and wounding 18 others. The report could not immediately be independently verified. But NATO denied that any air raid had killed civilians, saying the target was a command and control bunker in a military compound. The developments came on a day forces loyal to Gaddafi rained mortar fire on Misurata, the only rebel stronghold in the country’s west where fighting has trapped 300,000 residents. Medics said they have seen children with shrapnel and bullet wounds, with snipers allegedly killing and causing terror among the residents.